Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency Wednesday in two Northern California counties. In Mendocino and Sonoma counties drought conditions are especially bad, rather than statewide. The State Water Resources Control Board in March sent early warnings to 40,000 water rights holders urging them to start conserving. Even urban users are required to replace household appliances with water-saving ones. California is now in its second year of drought. The winter was with little precipitation. The Mendocino is at about 40% of normal capacity. “Oftentimes we overstate the word historic, but this is indeed an historic moment, certainly historic for this particular lake, Mendocino,” Newsom said, standing where 40 feet (12 meters) of lake water was supposed to be.
Last week, hundreds of farmers who rely on a massive irrigation project spanning the Oregon-California border were told they’ll get a fraction of the water they need. Lakes Mendocino and Sonoma are the primary sources of water for residents and commercial users like wineries, and together they provide water for about 600,000 people, said Grant Davis, general manager for Sonoma Water. There are disputes to determine if the dry spell is caused by natural weather patterns or if it’s man-made climate change. Some farmers are leaving acres of farmland unplanted. Last year, California invested $1 billion in purification plants that recycle waste water into viable drinking water. A bad thing for Californians is also that the wildfire season will begin.